More than 100 claimants attempting to sue for damage to their babies allegedly caused by Primodos have had their legal challenge struck out.
Their claim was against manufacturer of the pregnancy test drug Bayer, and another pharmaceutical company Sanofi – who’d produced a similar product used by fewer women.
The claim was also against the Department of Health for failure to regulate the drug when concerns first emerged about it among the medical community.
Families claim that the hormone-packed pill used to determine whether the woman was pregnant in the 1960s and 70s caused miscarriages, still births or deformities to the babies of many women who were prescribed the drug by their GPs.
But lawyers representing the pharmaceutical companies applied for a strike-out, which essentially asks the court to throw out non-viable claims, before they reach a full court hearing. Following the strike-out application, the claimants’ solicitors withdrew, leaving them with barristers, solicitors and experts working on a pro-bono basis.
This meant lawyers acting for the pharmaceutical companies could argue that the claimants had no lawyers and no funds and hence the claim itself was unrealistic – they couldn’t afford to get it to court.
Despite having apologised to the victims of Primodos in July 2020, the government lawyers also backed the strike-out claim, arguing the case alongside lawyers for the manufacturers, that the case was not realistic.
The government apology came after a scathing review headed by Baroness Cumberlege found that “much anguish, suffering and many ruined lives” caused by three medical products; vaginal mesh, Valproate and Primodos.
The then Health Secretary Matt Hancock issued a “full apology” agreeing that the affair was a scandal.